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5th Dec 2021

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MEPs focus on Belarus, digital rules This WEEK

  • European Parliament president David Sassoli (l) will welcome Belarusian democratic opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in Strasbourg (Photo: European Parliament)
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MEPs are heading to Strasbourg for a plenary meeting even though Covid-19 infections are on the rise all over Europe, and governments are introducing restrictive measures again.

Some 200 lawmakers will stay away because of health safety concerns.

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The debate over a successor for David Sassoli, the centre-left Italian president of the European Parliament will heat up next week.

The centre-right European People's Party group will elect its candidate on Wednesday evening (24 November), for the post in January.

Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola and Dutch MEP Esther de Lange are among the candidates, but more can put themselves forward by Monday evening.

The EPP insists that according to the coalition agreement at the start of this parliament's mandate, their group should assume the presidency position.

Foreign debate

On Tuesday (23 November), MEPs will debate the situation in Belarus, and Minsk pushing thousands of migrants to the Polish border, creating a humanitarian and security emergency.

On Wednesday, the exiled leader of the Belarusian democratic opposition Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will address the plenary in Strasbourg.

MEPs will also debate the escalation of tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday.

The leader of the Bosnian Serbs in Bosnia, Miroslav Dodik, said that their parliament will take decisions to withdraw from the country's army, courts and tax system this month, risking unravelling the federation that secured peace in the last decades.

On Tuesday (23 November), EU affairs ministers meeting in Brussels to prepare the EU summit in December, and take a closer look at the EU-UK talks on sorting out the post-Brexit trade issues in Northern Ireland.

Tough votes

MEPs in the internal market committee will vote on Monday (22 November) on new rules for Facebook, Amazon and Google, within the so-called EU Digital Markets Act.

The new legislation, proposed by commission vice-president Margrethe Vestager last year, would try to roll back unfair practices by the US market-dominating tech giants.

MEPs will also vote in the parliament's Strasbourg plenary meeting on the final approval of the common agriculture policy on Tuesday.

The new rules, which guide the distribution of EU funding, will aim to protect local food-production and promote sustainability in farming.

MEPs on Monday will talks about European strategy for critical raw materials, and a vote is scheduled for Tuesday.

Lithium, beryllium, cobalt and many others are necessary for consumer electronics, health, steel-making, defence, and aviation.

Wrap up

MEPs on Wednesday will debate the results of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will also face MEPs on Wednesday to discuss the results of the results of the October EU summit.

Lawmakers will also have a final vote on the 2022 EU budget, which was secured with talks in governments last week.

Nearly 200 MEPs set to shun Strasbourg over Covid spike

Almost 200 MEPs want to use remote voting rather than attend next week's session in Strasbourg, due to Covid-19 worries. The parliament's senior administrator has instructed staff to follow Belgian four-day home working rules - as has the European Commission.

Central Europe struggles with new Covid-19 wave

A new wave of Covid-19 infections has been sweeping through central Europe, where the vaccination rate is generally below the EU average - partly due to low trust in institutions.

Facebook scandal and COP26 climax in focus This WEEK

Facebook whistleblower is expected to meet with MEPs and representatives of the French senate this week. Meanwhile, eyes turn again to the Glasgow UN climate summit as pressure is mounting for negotiators to finish the 2015 Paris Agreement rulebook.

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